Colds are incredibly annoying for both your baby and your whole family. As well as making it much harder for your little one to breathe and feel comfortable, their increased fussiness and lack of sleep can pretty much derail the harmony in your household.
Requiring increased care from parents and extra attention paid toward building their immune system, it’s a welcome relief when your baby is completely healthy once again.
As avoiding a cold is impossible, with babies being vulnerable to several types of respiratory infections and over 200 types of different viruses, the best thing to do is have a strong recovery strategy and learn to identify when your child is getting a cold so you can curb its impact and duration.
You might not be able to stop your child from coming into contact with others who spread the virus, or from going into an area where objects or surfaces have been contaminated, but you can certainly ease your baby’s discomfort when they have a cold and implement some recovery techniques to prevent sniffles and a light cough turning into a 6-week nightmare of sleepless nights!
Top 5 Remedies for When Your Baby Already Has A Cold
Babies can’t have decongestant medicine until they’re 4 years old, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, there are a few remedies and solutions that are well-suited for when your child already has a full-blown cold.
Use Steam from a Hot Bath or Shower
Babies are full of mucus and until they are around 2 years old, they won’t be able to clear their nose properly themselves. This can make it very difficult to breathe and generally increase discomfort during colds.
Try using the steam from a hot bath or shower to loosen the music in their throat and to get their noses running. This will stop it from draining into your baby’s throat when you go to put them to bed, making it easier for them to settle.
Use a Nasal Rinse Solution or Baby-Safe Syringe
Another common technique for reducing music is to use a saline nasal spray. Saline drops and sprays, as well as sinus rinses, are a great way to relieve congestion caused by colds. They help clear out excess mucus in the nasal passages and make breathing a little easier.
These saline drops are recommended by most child doctors as they do not contain any medication. Most paediatricians will recommend that you use these saline drops with a baby-safe bulb syringe for infants. You can buy these easily over-the-counter at most chemists.
Just like with adults, rest is key to recovery when it comes to colds and respiratory infections. Obviously, your child will be more restless than ever and will probably be having a very hard time sleeping. However, the trick is letting them rest whenever you can. If you see an open window, whether it’s at night or in the daytime, put them down for a sleep and let their body's natural defences do the hard part.
Having said this, don’t give up on your evening bedtime routine. Even if you don’t think there’s a chance of your little one getting to bed at the usual time, following through with all the relaxing and calming activities can still help to encourage your baby to drop off. And when they do get better, you won’t have to re-teach them their evening routine.
For tips on creating the perfect evening routine, check out our popular blog: How to Help My Baby Sleep — The Perfect Evening Routine.
Use A Humidifier
Dry air, especially in homes with the heating turned on full-blast in winter, can cause mucus to thicken and clog your baby’s nasal passages. This is bad. To remedy this, try using an air humidifier or vaporizer which effectively increases the moisture levels in the air, making it easier for your baby to breathe and for music to naturally run its course.
Dry air, especially in homes with the heating turned on full-blast in winter, can cause mucus to thicken and clog your baby’s nasal passages.
Keep Theirs Heads Upright
The best default position for your baby to be in when they have a cold is upright. This helps for congestion to clear and for breathing to become easier. And, most importantly, it helps them get that vital rest they need so much.
To achieve this, consider wearing your baby on your chest while they nap.
The goal is to keep your baby upright so that fluid can drain away from the ears, naturally, rather than getting congested and potentially leading to an ear infection.
Note: You shouldn't use a pillow to do this as bed accessories are not recommended by the AAP. For more suggestions or questions regarding this, please check with your child's doctor.
Top 5 Prevention Tactics For When You See Signs Of A Cold Starting
It’s not too late to implement such smart techniques when you see that your baby is coming down with a cold. If you do nothing and let it run its course, it could last for weeks. But if you follow the below steps, you can stop it in its tracks and prevent it from becoming anything more than a fleeting bout of sniffles.
Certain vitamins (like Vitamin A, C and D) can help your baby’s body fight off any nasty colds or infections. In particular, Vitamin D is known to help boost people’s immune systems and during winter when it’s freezing outside, there’s a good chance your little one is in low supply.
While your doctor can give you advice on Vitamin D and Vitamin C drops for babies; tell you where to get them, and advise on how much to take, giving your baby some direct sunlight is probably the best boost.
It’s important to increase your baby's fluid intake during colds and respiratory infection. As they lose liquid through their runny noses, you will need to constantly top this up or your little one will become dehydrated quite quickly.
Depending on their age, they may be able to consume different types of drinks and solutions other than just milk. An electrolyte solution, for example, may be prescribed by your doctor if your child is at risk of becoming dehydrated.
Keep their Space Hygienic
This tip is especially important for households with multiple children. As colds can rapidly spread from person to person, you could find a simple cold in one of your children starts a chain reaction of endless runny noses.
When anyone in your family comes down with a cold or the sniffles remember to be extra hygienic and wipe down any spaces your baby inhabits with an anti-bacterial cleaner. Also, make sure tissues are immediately disposed of away from the reach of children.
Dress them Appropriately
Obviously, you’ll want to keep your child warm during the winter months to prevent them from catching a chill. To do this, a trusty swaddle or swaddle transition garment can be used here to lock in all the heat and ensure your baby is warm and cozy.
However, it’s not all about heat. It’s often just as important to keep your child cool during their colds with rooms that are airy and well ventilated.
If not, they can easily overheat when their body temperature spikes overnight. Also, as they’ll already be finding it harder to breathe, it will be difficult for them to regulate their body temperatures naturally and you don’t want to completely smother them in a thick layer.
You’ll want to keep your child warm during the winter months to prevent them from catching a chill. To do this, a trusty swaddle or swaddle transition garment.
A Healthy Diet
Research suggests that breastfed babies get fewer colds and recover faster. This is partly because breast milk will naturally contain all the important vitamins, minerals and antibodies that their mothers’ have. If you’re using a baby milk formula, check to see that it is offering all the vital ingredients babies need to be healthy and strong.
Common Baby Cold FAQs
Below are some common questions parents ask themselves when their babies get sick with a common cold or respiratory infection.
Why Do Babies Get Colds In Summer?
Don’t be surprised if your baby gets a cold in summer. While it's more common for babies to get sick in colder weather, it’s still possible for various viruses to spread during summer months and in hotter climates. Simply treat it like any other cold.
Does Vapor Rub Work?
Vapor rubs such as Vicks are a popular decongestion tool for colds. However, most doctors warn that it is not safe to use the product on children under 2 years of age. The Vicks brand in particular does offer a more baby-friendly product, but it is advised to check that usage is safe with a doctor first.
Does My Baby Need Medicine?
Most over the counter cold medications are not safe or suitable for use in children under the age of 2. So, the main goal of your remedies and solutions is to use natural methods to help clear the nose and decongest your little one’s nasal passage. Their bodies will naturally fight off any common colds in due course as long as they get plenty of rest, hydration and comfort.
When To Contact A Doctor
You don’t need to contact a doctor if your baby gets a cold, but you may still want to if you’re unable to accurately diagnose what is troubling your child. You may believe it is something more serious for instance Or, if you are a new parent, this might be the very first baby cold you’ll encounter. In this situation, there’s no harm in getting some advice from an expert.
Final Advice for How to Help Baby Sleep with a Cold
The common cold is annoying, but it will pass. After around 7-10 days, it should completely phase-out, but don't be surprised if your baby has a lingering cough. Many babies also have slightly runny noses for several weeks after a cold, or even longer stretches during colder months.
As long as you keep your baby rested, warm, nourished and soothe them when they need soothing, they should be able to overcome any cold issues that come their way, even when they look so tiny and vulnerable in their first few months. They’re stronger than you think!